I came across an article on the Science Daily website yesterday.
Having grown up a fan of science fiction, the words "robots" and "lunar" in its headline intrigued me enough to want to read it.
As it turns out, NASA has been planning on building an outpost on the surface of the moon. They’re hoping to have it operational and manned by 2020. But, before they actually send the "construction crew" up there to begin building it, they need a type of "landing pad" which can handle the weight of the equipment, materials and whatever else might be needed.
The cost: priceless.
By "priceless" I mean that NASA hasn’t actually put a price tag on what it’s going to cost to build and maintain the doggone thing. Not even a generic one.
When I did a search to try and determine what the projected costs would be, the only references I could find where a couple of years old.
Interestingly enough, one of the articles from the redOrbit.com website had as its title, NASA Hasn’t Put Price on Lunar Outpost.
The article stated,
"NASA said it would cost about $104 billion leading up to the first moon landing, now scheduled to happen by 2020. But that doesn’t include the cost of multiple and continuous moon flights and the price of building and running the newly unveiled lunar outpost.
The Government Accountability Office, the independent auditing arm of Congress, puts the cost of NASA’s lunar program through 2025 at $230 billion."
I haven’t been able to determine how many people will be manning the outpost at a given time once it’s built, but I suspect it won’t be more than a half dozen or so. And, that gives me cause to wonder about our nation’s leadership and their seemingly lack of common sense – and fiscal responsibility.
To me is seems morally reprehensible that our government is going to spend hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars over the next decade or so to house a handful of people on the surface of the moon for six months at a time.
All the while, right here – on the "home" planet – there will be approximately 3.5 million people who will experience homelessness this year. Most of them, due to a shortage of available shelter beds, will be forced to sleep on the streets of our cities because adequate funding isn’t being allocated to help them. Moreover, because of the current economically turbulent times our nation is experiencing, there are folks who are facing the prospect of losing "house and home."
In addition, the National Alliance to End Homelessness estimates that 1.5 million more people will become homeless over the next two years.
I could understand the government’s continued funding for NASA’s construction and manning of the lunar outpost if it yielded some practical benefit for the rest of us here on planet Earth.
However, let’s be realistic about it: this nation has been spending billions upon billions of dollars on space programs, but has it made your life better? Has it helped put food on your table? Has it helped you pay your bills?
To be sure, the $230 billion which the Government Accountability Office estimates NASA’s lunar program will cost over the next decade will probably not cure all of the nation’s ills. But, I’m willing to bet it would be better served to use that money for the building of affordable housing right here on Earth. That, at least, would go a long way toward helping re-house those of our fellow citizens who have found themselves homeless due to the current economic recession.
I understand man’s natural curiosity to know what lies beyond the confines of our planet; the desire to explore the vast expanses of outer space.
But, at what cost?
Can we truly justify the ongoing expense of space exploration while there are men, women and children on the streets of our communities who will go hungry tonight; who will bed down with no shelter over their heads?
I think not.